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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

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Lsr this, the concluding chapter of the general narrative, I propose to investi-
gate the principles upon which the local nomenclature of Upper India has been
and still is being unconsciously constructed. The inquiry is one of considerable
importance to tie student of language ; bnt it has never yet teen approached
IE a scientific spirit, and the views which are here advanced respecting this
terra, inc^nita in the philologist's map mnst be regarded as a first exploration,
which is unavoidably tentative and imperfect. Many points of detail will pos-
sibly demand future rectification ; bnt tie general outline of the subject, the
fixed limits within which it is contained and some of its more characteristic
features of interior development ha ve3 it is hopedj been satisfactorily ascertained
and delineated with a fair amount of precision.
It is not to be inferred from this prelude that a subject of such obvious Inter-
est has hitherto been totally neglected. On the contrary, it has given rise to a
vast number of speculations, but all of the most haphazard description. And
iMs from two causes ; tie first being a perverse misconception as to the verna-
cular language of the country ; and the second, the absence np to the present
time of any list of names sufficiently complete to supply a basis for a really
tiioroBgh induction.
It seems a very obvious truism, and one that requires no elaborate defence to
maintain, that the names of a country and of the places in it should primd facie,
and in default of any direct evidence to the contrary, be referred to the language
of the people who inhabit them rather than to any foreign source. This, how-
ever, is the very point which most writers on the subject have failed to see. In
order to explain why the founder of an Indian village gave his infant settlement
the name, by which it is still known among his descendants, our laborious philo-
logists have rantsacked vocabularies of all the obscurest dialects of Europe, but
bave left their Sanskrit and Hindi dictionaries absolutely unopened.
A more carious illustration of a deliberate resolve to ignore obvious facts
for ike sake of Introducing a startling theory based on some obscure and
utterly problematical analogy could, scarcely be found than is afforded by
Dr. Hunter in Ms Dissertatioii on non-Ayan languages. In this he refers